Hide and Seek Champions

| 9/15/2016 9:36:00 AM

Cindy BarloweZucchini growers can relate. Summer squash seed germinates and quickly grows into a healthy plant full of lush leaves. Male blossoms appear, followed by females that, with helpful pollinators’ work, morph into small fruit. At some point, the gardener loses sight of small squash and foliage obscures growing offspring, helping zucchini achieve baseball bat size, seemingly overnight. For the gardener, overripe fruit and vegetables may yield a disappointing harvest, but for the plant, they are Hide and Seek Champions, producing seed for a future generation.

My maternal grandmother taught me to identify fruits and vegetables that had “gone to seed,” and, during growing seasons, she showed me how to remove and cast aside those undesirables, encouraging plants to continue productivity. As the summer garden season ended, large cucumbers, squash, okra, and other specimens matured on host plants until just before frost, when Granny carried them to her home and harvested seeds for next year’s planting season.

Although heirloom gardeners save premium fruits and vegetables for seed, much hidden produce escapes the most diligent harvests, presenting a challenge to reduce food waste while utilizing edible ingredients. With a bit of creativity, Hide and Seek Champions shine in the kitchen, producing unique and delicious treats. Before tossing overripe fruits and vegetables into the compost bin, consider trying some, or all, of these tips.


Cucumber: Even when cucurbits grow large and seedy, they retain crisp flesh and delightful fragrance.

• Blend large cucumbers into soup, served either hot or cold.
• Treat yourself to a spa experience at home and make a cucumber facial.
• Steep cucumber in water for a refreshingly healthy drink or seed and blend flesh with a little water to freeze in cubes for a cucumber water treat anytime.

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